LAS VEGAS—Even with Windows Phone 7 off to a strong start and Microsoft reporting solid profits on its desktop software business and Xbox gaming system, people still want to know what’s next for Microsoft. But Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer Wednesday night used his pre-show keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to demonstrate how far the company has come, as opposed to giving too many glimpses into the future.
Hype leading up to Ballmer’s address leaned heavily on a possible tablet unveiling. Ballmer last year briefly flashed an HP tablet, but failed to produce any Microsoft hardware in the tablet space. The same was true this year.
Still, Microsoft has done well for itself in 2010. The company’s Kinect sensor system for its Xbox gaming system was a big hit over the holidays. Ballmer said Microsoft hoped to sell 5 million of the units and ended up selling 8 million in 2010. The company also made headway with its Xbox Live service, which it also integrated with Windows Phone 7.
It was clear that while doing well, Microsoft needs to get the word out about Windows Phone 7. Ballmer used a good portion of his keynote to demo the company’s new mobile platform.
“I need people to see this phone to really understand what makes it so special,” Ballmer said.
Microsoft is currently adding about 100 apps to Windows Marketplace per day and boasts a developer community of more than 20,000, both signs that the platform is positioned for success. Ballmer also said that modifications are in the works to make Windows Phone 7 available on Sprint and Verizon Wireless’ CDMA networks in the coming months.
While Ballmer’s keynote didn’t feature any dramatic product announcements that will keep the crowd at CES talking, it did manage to accomplish at least one thing: Ballmer proved that Microsoft is regaining some of its luster that it may have lost to competitors over the past couple of years.